- Result: Galwegians Firsts 25 - Blackrock 19
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sun Apr 23rd 2023
- Competition: AIL Womens Cup
Galwegians Womens’ Seniors team won silverware when they beat AIL League champions Blackrock College to win an enthralling Energia AIL Plate final at a sun-drenched Crowley Park on Sunday.
In what was a cracking advert for women’s rugby, the Blue Belles opened the afternoon of scoring with an early penalty from captain Nicole Fowley. However the visitors who scored the opening try soon afterwards, with a try by lock Eimear Corri on the right, and the conversion from Lisa Mullen nudged them 8-7 in front.
The see-saw nature of this contest would continue and the Blue Belles went back in front when they scored their first try just after the first quarter. It followed a sublime delayed pass from Fowley and a perfectly timed run by full-back Mairead Coyne who got in behind the defence, with winger Ursula Sammon finishing on the right. It was nip and tuck, but probably the decisive moment of the game came just before the break when Coyne, playing her very last game, made a trademark intercept near halfway to race home and score on the left for a second unconverted try. This would see Wegians go into half-time with a narrow 13-7 lead.
The lead changed hands yet again when Rock took advantage of an extra player with Wegians prop Niamh O’Grady binned in the 42nd minute. When the Blues defence ran out of numbers, Corri scored her second try out on the right corner, and an excellent conversion from Mullen nosed her side in front 13-14. However despite still being down to 14, the Blues responded almost immediately when sub hooker Emily Gavin, fresh on the pitch, finished a series of controlled pick and goes by diving over at the base of the goalposts. Fowley added the extras and the Blue Belles restored their 6-point advantage.
The game hung finely in the balance heading into the final quarter, but the momentum crucially swung the way of the home side. They pinned Rock deep in their half and when Orla Dixon ran back a goal-line drop-out, another stalwart to play her final game in blue, substitute scrum-half Mary Healy fed Fiona Scally, and the no. 8 dismissed four attempted tackles to power over for the all-important try, finally putting some daylight between the sides.
With O’Grady again yellow carded, the Blue Belles had to finish the game a player short, and Rock managed another late try out wide from full-back Abby Moyles to give her side one last chance. But Wegians crucially closed the game out deep in opposition territory and in the final play, Fowley kicked the ball dead to ensure a 25-19 victory, leading to jubilant scenes at Crowley Park.
It was a fitting end to the game for three former internationals, Coyne, Healy and ex-Wegian and Rock prop Laura Feely, who all now hang up their boots.